Certainly, the holidays are celebration of family and friends, a festive time filled with gift giving, decorating, tree trimming and sparkling lights. But not so much fun for the environment.
Americans generate 25 percent more trash between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day than any other time of the year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The food waste, the ribbons and bows, the paper, boxes and shopping bags, all add up to an extra million tons of waste each week for five weeks.
Strange as it might sound, the holiday season is the perfect time to reduce, reuse and recycle. Here are 10 ways to be celebrate a 'green' holiday season:
1. Start a "living tradition" in your family and purchase a live Christmas tree, which you can replant after the holidays. Your local nursery will be able to suggest which kind of tree is best for replanting, as well as how to acclimate your tree from outdoors to indoors.
2. If you by a pre-cut tree, be sure to recycle it after the holidays. Call the maintenance department in your city or local recycling center for instructions.
3. Cut up and use your old holiday greetings cards for gift tags next year, or kids' craft projects. If you don't choose to reuse them, be sure to recycle the cards with mixed paper and magazines.
4. Consider not sending greeting cards at all and let your fingers do the "talking." There are great many Web sites that offer free e-cards. Oh, the trees we would save!
5. Save energy by using LED lights. LED are 90 percent more efficient than traditional lights. If people replaced their normal Christmas lights with LEDs, we'd save at least two billion kilowatt-hours of electricity a month. That's enough energy to power 200,000 homes for a year. If everyone switched, it would amount to an incredible amount of energy savings. Also, there are many different lighting options that are more environment-friendly, including solar powered lights.
6. Use rechargeable batteries. There's a USBCELL available that recharges by plugging into your computer. Standard rechargeable batteries are also a good choice.
7. Use newspaper, old gift bags, comics and magazines for wrapping paper. They also work for padding more delicate items and recycle paper at the same time.
8. If you have your mind set on using holiday-themed wrapping paper, try to use post-consumer and chlorine-free recycled paper.
9. Buy handmade items with less packaging such as a sweaters, stuffed toys, wooden toys, puzzles, furniture, etc.
10. Consider gifts of time such as volunteering, gift certificates for favors such as helping a friend with childcare. Or make your own gift certificates that give someone a free hour of babysitting, a free dinner, house cleaning, etc.